Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Poetical Correctness

"[Kenneth] Koch was on the attack; he cut down any sign of high seriousness or emotional vulnerability, in the person or the poem. . . . we were taught a certain skepticism towards sentimental poetic retreads. That was healthy. But I watched uneasily as he divided us into male poets and female sex objects who wrote poetry."

- Kathleen Fraser, "The Tradition of Marginality"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"The Avant-Garde Tradition"

This is one of my favorite phrases. Who coined it? Ron Silliman? Marjorie Perloff? Anyway, I trust s/he had tongue at least partially in cheek. But I think both would agree that some versions of the "Old" avant-garde are still alive, if not well. Which I guess is not avant or arriere, but more like being a subculture, like the Rainbow Nation or Society for Creative Anachronism. Which is fine with me, as long as you don't really think it's 1967 or 1215.

Three addenda to the list in the previous post:
- self-image as intellectually/ethically superior (if not salvific) remnant community (read: classing off)
- heroically nihilistic irony; deadly serious levity
- you gotta have the right clothes.

Of course, this is the worst of the self-conscious worst. There are some young'uns doing unconventional work with a self-deprecating humor about it. Or who don't worry about being original or unique when they write or paint (I can't help but like Brenda Coultas). But, paradoxically, it does seem as though being avant is "in" - that is, it is indeed becoming institutionalized, which is what always happens. It's not a matter simply of the "poets of quietude" defecting (or passing), but of younger poets choosing to specialize as Experimentalist.

Then there is the inevitable populist backlash; if you don't believe me, come to Kansas. [for an account of the previous cycle, in the early part of the last century, see Poetry and the Public]

BTW, it's "soi-disant," Joe, NOT "soi-dit" (tho personally, I like that version better).

And, yes, the implication is indeed that I am a capitalist running-dog. Anyone who owns their own home (read: mortgage), and is not about to be foreclosed upon, is now officially a capitalist running-dog - at least until the economy starts looking up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"The Avant-Garde Is Neither"

Is it just my imagination, or is the soi-dit avant-garde of today replicating all the cliches?

- artist as heroic, suffering outsider
- military metaphors
- epater les bourgeois (Fr., "freak the squares")
- fetishization of the new
- imagining they're doing something new
- liberal artistic use of bodily fluids
- apolitical politics (a.k.a., "speaking out")
- political metaphors
- anti-academism (Lat., "too cool for school" - advanced degrees notwithstanding)
- creeping academization & institutionalization (in it, but not of it, of course)
- radical formal claims
- drawing within the old generic lines anyway

Or, said another way, how elderly am I, really? I'm not avant or arriere, I just run alongside, nipping everyone's heels. And chasing my tail. And occasionally licking my balls. Being invisible has its advantages.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Non blogito ergo nil?

That's pig Latin for "if you don't update your blog for over a week, to you begin to become insubstantial?" That is, if "blogito ergo sum," as I have elsewhere proposed in these pages, then, if you begin a blog but don't maintain it, do you lose whatever ontological credit you have accrued? No - that's far too Catholic. Really, it's more that the simulacrum "Joseph Harrington" is losing its hyperreality. Or some such. In any event, I can't help but notice that I can see right through myself. And probably so can you.